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Bernal Rodríguez, a Costa Rican native, is an innovator at heart. His lifelong career in manufacturing began in automotive electronics and expanded to engineering management, quality management, project management, product development, and plant management for some of the largest companies in the world.

Even before today’s technological advances, such as SaaS and cloud-based software platforms, he was experimenting with technology every chance he could get. Although ISO 9000 standards were still at a primitive stage, Rodriguez used whatever he had at hand, such as flow charts, to describe the standard operating procedures of a quality system.

Eventually, Rodriguez transitioned from electronics to the medical device field, which was beginning to boom in Costa Rica. He saw an opportunity to utilize his depth and breadth of knowledge in process management, transferring product lines, start-ups, production, and medical device manufacturing.

“Someone once said to focus on what I’m good at and create a business around it. This advice pointed me in the right direction because I was good at managing plants, transferring processes, and creating cultures focused on quality—all of these aspects were wrapped around my life experience.”

The seeds for a business were sown, and in 2016 the idea for ITEK, a life sciences near-shoring manufacturing services company, was born. Rodriguez was once told, half-jokingly, that he was “genetically engineered” to be an entrepreneur because of his knowledge in such a wide range of areas. “All the pieces of my background brought me to this point. I knew how to make it happen, and I had the ability to start my own company.”

The early years can be rough with any start-up, but Rodriguez achieved success right out of the gate. His first customer was so impressed with ITEK’s business model that they were happy to wait until he was ready to launch. They signed up a year and a half before any projects began. Since then, they’ve manufactured over 23 million devices for this loyal client.

Rodriguez believes that a virtuous circle is created when customers are happy. Part of his success was due to early planning and building a solid foundation to grow upon. Starting from a blank slate, he focused on creating three pillars, a robust quality system, an integrated ERP, and a water-tight intellectual property management system.

“We needed an agile quality system that was cloud-based and could be accessed from any device or operating system. I wasn’t sure if it existed but started searching online. I found ComplianceQuest and have never looked back.”

Rodriguez designed his quality system with ComplianceQuest in mind. “ComplianceQuest influenced our quality system by meshing the capabilities of compliance into the processes we were writing. This is really powerful because in the end, our procedures are very agile, based on digital processes, and we can do more with less.”

ITEK has almost 100 employees, and Rodriguez is proud of what the company has achieved. The never-ending challenge of continuous improvement is what motivates and inspires him every day. “Even though you may be proud of what you’ve achieved, continuous improvement is a never-ending journey. Being able to reach greater heights keeps the juices flowing.

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